Israel’s Great Failure

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

Some believe this psalm was written when David had the Ark brought to Jerusalem. Others believe it was when Solomon brought the Ark into the temple. Still others believe it was written much later and simply a memorial of these trips. Honestly, I don’t have a dog in this fight at all. The bigger point that we should see is not about the Ark of the Covenant at all. The bigger point is about the King of glory! And who is the King of glory? Jesus, of course! Certainly, when He was first brought to the temple there were a couple of people who tried to point out the reception He should receive (think Anna and Simeon). And the second time He came to the temple, teachers were astonished. However, when Jesus grew up, He should have been hoisted on the shoulders of the people, brought into the temple this song being sung. When He cleansed the temple of the money changers, He should have been lauded and applauded. He should have been asked, “What else shall we do to serve You, King of Glory?” He should have been praised and worshiped universally. The people should have realized He was actually too big to be housed in that temple. But, instead, the Jews believed they were defending the temple by keeping Jesus out of it. Instead of marching Him up Zion’s hill and letting Him take His rightful place on the throne of God in the Holy of Holies, they marched Him up Golgotha’s hill outside the gate and nailed Him to a cross. He was and is the King of glory, the Lord of hosts, strong and mighty, mighty in battle. And Israel failed. Their hands were defiled with the blood of Jesus. Their hearts were divided against their true King. They did lift up their souls to what was false. They did swear deceitfully. And they did not receive their blessing. But as many as did receive Him and believed in His name were given the right to become children of God and subjects of the one, true King of Glory, Jesus Christ. Which choice have you made?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.

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Distinct Love

Today’s reading is Psalm 17.

David asked God to “Wondrously show your steadfast love” (vs. 7). The word translated “Wondrously show” however is used in only a few other places. We find it three times during the plagues on Egypt (Exodus 8:22; 9:4; 11:7). Each time it refers to how God made a distinction between Israel and Egypt, punishing Egypt and preserving Israel. In Exodus 33:16, Moses claimed it was by God going with Israel that they were made distinct (that’s our word). Then in Psalm 4:3, we learned that God had set apart (that’s our word) the godly for Himself. In other words, David isn’t simply asking God to love him. David is asking God to show the entire world that it matters who your God is. David is asking God to repeat history. He is asking God to do for him what God did for Moses and Israel when in Egypt and when entering the Promised Land. David is asking God to demonstrate a distinct love. God loves everyone. God has demonstrated His love for everyone. But for His chosen people, He demonstrates a love that shows them to be distinct, to have a special relationship with Him. And while it may sound self-serving to pray that God would distinguish us, His chosen and special people, with a distinct kind of love, it is actually exactly what the world needs to see. The world needs to see that it really does matter who your God is. Perhaps we should spend more time praying that God would make a distinction. Perhaps we should spend more time asking God to distinguish us from the world by His love. The fact is, He only has His covenant love for His covenant people. Why not ask Him to demonstrate it? That may be the only way some people will learn their need and develop a desire to take God up on His covenant.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 17.

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Focus on God, Not Places

Today’s reading is Acts 7.

In Acts 6, the Jews had accused Stephen of speaking against the temple in Jerusalem. You would think that they could start getting creative with their misleading accusations, but they were essentially making the same accusation against Stephen they had against Jesus (see Matthew 26:61). The interesting thing is this accusation actually may not be completely off base. Stephen may well have been saying Jesus would destroy the temple. After all, that is exactly what Jesus did in 70 AD. In his sermon, Stephen does not make a defense saying, “No, you’ve completely misunderstood me. I would never say the temple is going to be destroyed.” Instead, just as he was weaving together stories that showed we should focus on God and not men, he wove together stories that explained we should not focus on holy places, but on the God who made them holy. As Stephen told the stories of the men God used, he also told stories of the places God met them. The God of glory (don’t forget that the glory of the Lord dwelt in the temple) met Abraham not in Jerusalem but Mesopotamia. God was with Joseph, of all places, in Egypt. God first met Moses, not at the temple in Jerusalem, but on Mt. Sinai. Further, God told him to take off his shoes because it was holy ground. There is a subtle reminder that even when they got into the Promised Land it wasn’t until David that the tabernacle was brought to Jerusalem. We know it had been in Bethel, in Shiloh, and in Kiriath-Jearim. Finally, it wasn’t until Solomon that the temple was built. The point behind all of these stories is simple. As important as the temple was, it really wasn’t the temple that was important, but the God who dwelt there–the God who made the temple Holy. Because the Jews had focused too much on the temple, they had missed God when He came into their midst in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ. We must not make that mistake. The focus is not on holy places, but on the Holy God. Hang on to Him no matter where He leads.

Today’s reading is Acts 7.

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True Forgiveness

Today’s reading is Hebrews 8.

In the former covenant, there was a reminder of sins every year. Daily, weekly, monthly, annual sacrifices brought to mind the sins of the nation and of the individuals within it. Thus, a new covenant was necessary. A covenant enacted on better promises by a better priest offering a better sacrifice. Under this covenant, God promises, “I will be merciful toward their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more.” It is not that God can’t remember if He wanted to and tried. Rather, it is that He has gotten rid of the reminders. With one sacrifice, He has wiped out our sin. Therefore, He has wiped out the daily, weekly, monthly, annual reminders by sacrifice that we are sinners. This one sacrifice of Jesus Christ worked. We now need to follow God’s lead. Your sins have been forgiven. Quit reminding yourself of all your sins and instead remind yourself of your Savior. He is the best and so is His covenant. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 9.

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The Resurrected Priest

Today’s reading is Hebrews 7.

There were lots of priests under the Old Covenant because they kept dying. When one died, he had to be replaced. Death conquered every one of them. Under the New Covenant, there is only one priest. Not because that priest didn’t die. He did. But because death did not conquer our priest. He conquered death. On the third day, He broke forth from the grave. Death was defeated and is unable to even mount a counterattack against our High Priest. That is why we have a better hope, because we have a better priest. Praise the Lord.

Monday’s reading is Hebrews 8.

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Standing on the Promises

Today’s reading is Hebrews 6.

I’ve never noticed before that God wasn’t just trying to convince Abraham, but also the heirs of the promise to Abraham. How did I miss that? He’s convincing you and me. And how amazingly He has convinced us. He gave amazing promises to Abraham. Frankly, promises that seemed beyond possibility. Then for years and even generations those promises looked all but forgotten. However, everything God promised Abraham came to pass. Wow! God has promised salvation through Jesus Christ. He has shown Himself faithful to keep His promises. Let us stand on His ability and commitment to keep His promises. Let us share those promises with others that they might have a place to stand. God has said it. He will do it.

Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 7.
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